Industrial unrest over job and wage cuts hit record levels in July and August and if not contained could lead to "industrial turmoil" over winter, the chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, warned last week.
"It is as bad as I have ever seen it in my almost 20 years dealing with disputes and strikes. And it is likely to get worse over autumn as we try to deal with the fallout from the implementation of the €5bn spending cuts recommended by An Bord Snip Nua," said Mulvey.
Mulvey also said that in the large number of disputes coming across the desk, Nama and the government's proposals to clean up €90bn worth of toxic bank debts, is being increasingly mentioned.
"There is a lot of serious underlying anger out there and as the banks are being bailed out people are worried about their job, pensions and future, particularly those who have to manage mortgage, education and health costs," he said.
"The trade unions are doing their best to contain it but they are getting overwhelmed. If it is not managed some spark will turn this into industrial turmoil," he warned.
Mulvey added that the situation was getting "very fractious".
In the first six months of this year, the number of disputes referred to the commission was 40% up on the same period last year while referrals in July and August hit levels never seen before, according to Mulvey.
This week alone, employers and unions from diamond manufacturer, Element Six are due in the commission offices on Haddington Road in Dublin to resolve a dispute over company plans to cut 160 jobs and cut the wages of remaining workers.
Dockers employed by Marine Terminals in Dublin, who have been on strike for the past eight weeks over similar company plans to cut wages and staff, are due in the commission tomorrow. Mulvey said he also hopes to get both sides in Coca Cola to conciliation talks.
Mulvey added that he wouldn't be surprised if Aer Lingus comes before the commission after the airline announced losses of almost €100m for the first six months of the year and said it couldn't continue to pay what it called "legacy" wages.